From Jail to Jobs, College, and Beyond

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Lane Corrections Volunteer Association
City & State:
Organization's Mission Statement

The LCVA will support and provide programs that otherwise would not be available to incarcerated people in Lane County. We provide educational, spiritual, social, and workforce training for individuals sanctioned by the Criminal Justice System. All programs are designed to provide tools that enhance an individual’s ability to rejoin the community productively, minimizing the likelihood of reoffending. We are unique because no other agency or entity can help them from within the walls before release.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Our program uses Microsoft Technology Solutions to assist Lane County inmates in furthering their education, career, employment, and to enhance their life skills. The Lane Corrections Volunteer Association (LCVA) supports the Lane County Adult Corrections (LCAC) inmate population in many ways.  One of the most significant areas of support is for the Inmate Education and Workforce Development program. This program supports economic development in Lane County by enhancing employment opportunities for ex-offenders, thereby increasing family wage income, contributing to the tax base, and reducing dependency on government services. <br /><br />These impacts are the result of a year-round educational program that provides inmates with the opportunity to obtain a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), a respected, nationally recognized equivalent of a high school diploma. Inmates enrolled in LCAC’s program that already have a high school diploma or GED can transition into preparing for entrance exams for credit classes at Lane Community College, trade or vocational schools, or universities. Access to the world of opportunities is provided by our donated computers, software and associated peripherals.  We continue to seek additional ways to be more efficient and add capacity to our program.  Space is available but, new equipment is needed.<br /><br />In addition to GED and college preparatory classes, the LCAC program provides inmates with tools needed to find jobs, including research skills, cover letter and resume preparation, interviewing practice, and basic computer proficiency.  This too, is done using Microsoft Technology Solutions.<br /><br />The educational program also includes a community integration component that teaches topics such as personal finance, time management, nutrition, and problem solving. Many of these classes would not be possible without Microsoft Technology Solutions.  Classes held during the past year included learning how to balance checkbooks, understanding consumer math involved in credit and loans, creating a personal budget, and setting goals. Guest speakers have informed students about financial aid and scholarship programs. Other guest speakers have provided information about mentoring, career planning, and small business development. There are also plans to set up an individual mentoring program that would continue after release from jail.<br /><br />During the 12-month period from July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008, the county’s corrections education and workforce programs achieved the following results:<br /><br />•    11,041 contact hours of education were provided to 284 inmates who participated in our educational program<br /><br />•    295 General Equivalency Diploma (GED) subtests were successfully passed<br /><br />•    36 inmates earned their GEDs<br /><br />•    99 inmates achieved an academic level gain in reading, writing, or math<br /><br />•    16 former inmates obtained or retained jobs in the third calendar quarter of 2008.<br /><br />•    40 students continued college classes at Lane Community College after completing their sentences, with five of them enrolled in credit programs.<br /><br />In 2009-10, we anticipate that the number of inmates participating in the educational and workforce development program will not be able to increase capacity until we have additional equipment.<br /><br />An ongoing partnership with the University of Oregon allows inmates to take official GED tests while participating in one of LCAC programs. Inmates participating in the Sherman Center’s day reporting program are released to take tests at the UO Testing Center.  As of January 1st 2009, inmates housed inside the jail are no longer able to take the GED battery of tests.  The University of Oregon is no longer willing to provide test proctors.  With additional funding of about $7,000, we would be able to secure a certified tester and cover all test costs.  Matching grant funds would be available if we were to be successful obtaining a financial award from this proposal.<br /><br />Several years ago, the Sherman Center classroom was extensively remodeled, resulting in a state-of-the-art, professional educational environment with attractive partitions and work stations, upgraded audio-visual equipment.  Computers and peripheral equipment for all students are donated from several local community sources. The City of Springfield, State of Oregon Courts and Lane County have all contributed to the LCVA by passing down PC related items that have served their purposes and are no longer useful to them. This identifies another area where awarded funds would be applied.  The classroom currently has twelve stations of outdated PC’s. <br /><br />We have begun a relationship with Goodwill Industries and are pursuing a relationship with the Lane Workforce Partnership. These relationships will result in increased opportunities for job search education and resources to be brought into the corrections environment. This will be accomplished through presentations and classes led by Goodwill and Workforce representatives, links to job information, and increased referrals to classes and services at the employment department.<br /><br />An inmate’s attainment of the ultimate goal of the program, gainful and lasting employment, provides many ongoing benefits to both the individual and the larger society. Of paramount importance to the corrections system is to reduce rates of recidivism. Former inmates who become employed in legitimate jobs in the mainstream economy are less likely to return to their criminal behaviors of the past, which brings direct reduction in enormous costs associated with jail and prosecution.    <br /><br />Participation in the LCAC educational program is not always a process that ends with the completion of an inmate’s sentence. Inmates receive individualized assistance in developing specific plans to help them meet their educational and occupational goals after they have left the program. Sometimes the attainment of those goals is a multi-step process that requires goal-setting and perseverance on the part of students for periods that extend long after release date. Instructors and corrections staff work together to help inmates plan for post-release continued education and help guide them through the processes associated with transferring to other locations. Corrections and education staff and volunteers also work together to allow inmates to learn about and take advantage of opportunities for short term employment while they are pursuing longer term educational goals, the fulfillment of which ultimately will lead to family wage employment opportunities. 

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact